‘A Pioneer’: Industry Leaders Mourn Death of Former Brookdale CEO Sheriff

Leaders across the industry are paying tribute to former Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) CEO and late senior living pioneer Bill Sheriff.

Sheriff died early on the morning of Aug. 27, according to an email update from American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) President and CEO David Schless.

“Bill personified leadership and service at the very highest level, mentoring a new generation of industry leaders and leaving a tremendous legacy,” Schless wrote in an Aug. 27 update to ASHA members.


Argentum CEO James Balda said that he and the organization are “heartened by the many stories shared by current and former employees and colleagues of the interest and advice Bill provided.”

“Bill’s quiet yet caring nature will leave a lasting legacy to the residents that call senior living home and all those who serve in the senior living industry,” Balda said in a statement.

Sheriff is known for his work as an early pioneer in the senior living industry. In 1984, he began leading Nashville-based developer and operator American Retirement Corporation (ARC), which specialized in CCRCs and was backed by the Hospital Corporation of America. As leader of ARC, Sheriff was instrumental in blazing trails for the for-profit, private-pay senior living business model that is seen today across the industry.


ARC went public in 1997, and in 2006 it merged with Brookdale. Sheriff ascended to the role of CEO not long after, and led the company until his retirement in 2013. He is Brookdale’s longest-serving CEO to date. In 2018, he rejoined the Brentwood, Tennessee-based operator as a consultant.

He also received an ASHA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and joined the ASHA Senior Living Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 2018.

Current Brookdale CEO Cindy Baier remembered Sheriff as a “pioneer in the industry.”

“He made time to help his colleagues and his competitors. He will forever be remembered for his unprecedented and incomparable contributions to the industry,” Baier said in a statement shared with Senior Housing News Sunday. “Bill made a tremendous impact on my life and the lives of so many others, including countless numbers of residents and associates. We will greatly miss him.”

‘Important and generous mentor’

Others in the industry also mourned Sheriff’s passing and paid tribute to his contributions to the industry.

John Atkinson, who is leader of senior living and LTC industry practice for risk advisory and insurance brokerage firm Marsh & McLennan (NYSE: MMC), called the industry pioneer a “dear friend” who was “an important and generous mentor.”

“His integrity was only exceeded by his faith in God and his skills for teaching muskie fishing,” Atkinson wrote on LinkedIn. “So many will miss him.”

Aegis Living CEO Dwayne Clark noted that Sheriff was “a true gentleman who was a pioneer in our industry.”

“He’ll be missed,” Clark wrote on LinkedIn.

Ventas (NYSE: VTR) Executive Vice President Justin Hutchens said Sheriff was “a great man who was generous with his advice over the years.”

“He understood the importance of driving an engaging culture throughout senior housing companies,” Hutchens wrote on the social media platform.

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